Return to Table of Contents/Writer’s Den

 

Chapter Fifty-Three

 

Apostle of Arabia

 

 

 

            For the second time in my life, I was in the company of desert nomads.  The last time I entered the desert like this I was a prisoner of thieves and cutthroats and barely escaped with my life.  This time, I may very well be in the company of such men, but I was with a friend.  Despite this reassurance, I was glad Micah was with Ashira and wouldn’t suffer my fate.  It appeared as though, Jesus promise that Micah would one day be my traveling companion, didn’t include Arabia and was intended for another time.  The Lord was using a pagan and quite possibly a bandit and even a murderer to spread the word.  Seen this way, if I was thinking like a Greek, Ibrim and I were both agents on behalf of the Lord, who was the primary mover or first cause.  Of course, the Lord was much more than this.  Though I clearly understood what I was doing as being God’s will, Ibrim, also moved by God, was, on a conscious level, likely acting on a whim.  After all he was a Gentile, not too fond of our demanding religion, and he thought of Jesus as another god.  In the final analysis it didn’t matter.  I was on my first unaccompanied mission, a ministry that, with the Lord’s guidance, left me totally alone.  Here I was on a camel in the Arabian wilderness surrounded by nomads, who probably recently and, judging by the animals in the parade, during this very venture, raided a caravan.  Though Ibrim, who considered himself to be my friend, was amiable enough, the other members of his band had that wild, uncivilized look I once saw in the desert nomads who held me hostage.  The procession of camels and stolen livestock looked very similar to what I saw during that earlier time.

While Ibrim’s sons ran amuck each time we made camp, swinging small wooden swords in practice for the days they became bandit themselves, his three wives were quiet, submissive creatures, their faces hidden behind veils.  The other women, undoubtedly concubines, were either captured or purchased from slave-dealers.  The remaining men walking on foot, either slaves or servants, acted as shepherds for the contraband horses, mules, and goats.

            With my Galilean clothes, I might have looked out of place in this group.  Much more different for me than my outward appearance when compared to them was my perspective of the world, which I share with other peoples.  It was difficult for civilized men to comprehend the free-roaming bandits’ minds.  The Pax Romana of the empire had well defined boundaries with garrisons to protect villages and towns.  With the exception of highwaymen here and there, the Romans had made the roads safe for travelers, too.  Criminals and general troublemakers were ruthlessly punished, often crucified.  Yet all religions and cultures were respected equally, even my troublesome sect.   For Ibrim and his men, who had no respect for Roman law, there were no boundaries.  If they were like other desert folk, they viewed other peoples as a potential source of wealth.  In my travels and during my captivity I had witnessed ruthless, murderous behavior among nomads.  That Ibrim’s procession exhibited this pattern was troubling, and yet I kept hoping I was wrong and this particular band was an exception.  Perhaps, I reasoned, as we approached a distant oasis, Ibrim had, in fact, earned his wealth as a merchant, not as bandit king like Barabbas.  But the closer we came to the hodgepodge of tents and palm-roofed huts within the oasis of palms, myrtles, and acacias, the more I was reminded of how different this community was from the villages and towns of Galilee and Judea.  I could see, as if for my benefit as an eyewitness, men sorting through piles of colorful capes, gowns, and turbans, while other men appeared to be haggling with a merchant, about items on a large oak table, which was out of place in such a setting. 

My worst fears then materialized those moments as we entered the desert community and I witnessed the proceedings of a slave auction, an experience I had suffered as a slave myself.  I had been rescued by a merchant Pharisee, but in this remote outpost there would be no rescue for the naked men, women, and children on the platform.  Though aware of my uncertain position, I could no longer hold my tongue.  Turning my camel—a most difficult feat with such stubborn beasts, I searched the procession for Ibrim, who recently dismounted and climbed into his coach.

            “Ibrim!  Ibrim!” I called into his cab. “You know what I had gone through: the slave auction and my captivity.  You must know I don’t approve of this.  Those naked people on the platform are part of your contraband, the items stolen from merchants and travelers, many of whom were slain or turned into slaves!”

            “Yes, yes.” He waved a bejeweled hand. “It’s not this bunch that concerns you.  I’m weary about all this, myself.  Some of my people witnessed wondrous things in your land.  I’m dying, Jude.  A Hebrew healer, we captured, told me my days are numbered.  Soon I will be no more.  My gods have failed me.  I think they have failed my people too.”

            I was taken back and speechless a moment.  “…. What?  What are you saying?” I asked, teetering on my camel. “All this—my coming to this godforsaken land—is because you’re dying?  I could have healed you back in my town.  All men must die, Ibrim.  After what I’ve seen, I’m not certain you deserve to live!”

            “Oh, it’s not just for me that I live,” he explained calmly. “It’s for my family—my wife, children, brothers, my uncle Hassan, my servants, and even my slaves.”  “Besides,” he added almost off-handedly, “I want them to know your new god.  Before he died, the Hebrew told us your Jesus raised a man from the dead!”

            Climbing awkwardly off my camel, I scrambled into his coach.

            “Did you murder him?” I asked accusingly. “Tell me the truth.  How did he die?”

            “I’m sorry,” Ibrim replied, shrugging his shoulders, “he tried to escape.  My men killed him.”

            As if that was but a trifling manner, he gazed lazily out the window and shook his head.

            “…. I remember you telling us about your vengeful god,” he replied finally. “He let your warriors wipe out many nations: women, men, children, even animals.  Worse than this, except for one family and a boatload of animals, he once drowned the whole world.  What I have done is nothing compared to what your first god did.  The Hebrew didn’t deny this, but he told us about the new god Jesus, who did wondrous deeds.”

            “He’s not a new god,” I said, looking at him in disbelief. “How is it, after listening to that poor man, you don’t understand this?  I won’t confuse you with the details, especially if you couldn’t comprehend that, but I can tell you that Yahweh, the Hebrew god, and Jesus, the Christ, are father and son.  You must accept them both equally to be a true believer.  It’s not up to us to question God.”

            “Very well.” Ibrim sighed, twirling his fingers. “I accept him, too—Jesus’ father.” “Now what’s next?” he asked impatiently.  “Tell me what to do.  How can I join up?  Do I offer sacrifice.  That’s what your priests do.  I’m running out of time!”

            “You must simply believe,” I chose my words carefully.  “…. That is the first requirement.  Belief is a gate in which knowledge flows through.  Nothing pleases the Lord more than an open and contrite heart.” “…. But understand this, Ibrim.” I added less delicately. “Jesus frowns upon what you’re doing here and how you live your life.  You should know, if you understand him at all, we don’t sacrifice animals to propitiate our God.  This is done by priests in the temple.  Our faith is much simpler, and no sacrifice is required.”

At this point, Ibrim, who was impatient for a cure, was showing mounting irritation with me, which was just as well.  Taking advantage of his mindset, I bit my lip, sidestepping this controversial issue completely: Jesus was our sacrifice, who replaced the temple offering—the Lamb of God.  Of course, I couldn’t tell him this, especially not in his frame of mind.  It was difficult enough to explain to him that Jesus wasn’t a new god.  Why muddy the waters?  Instead, at this stage in his spiritual development, I kept it simple.  Without attempting to explain the finer points to this barbarian, I avoided the crucifixion, resurrection, and Godhead, and gave him the basic formula for salvation.  “In order to be saved,” I came straight to the point, “you must give up your old life, promise to sin no more, and accept Jesus as your Christ and savior, who’ll bring you eternal life.”

            This time, he gave me a blank expression.  “Eternal life?” pondered Ibrim. “…We have hundreds of gods and goddesses—more than the Egyptians, but little is said of heaven.  Tell me about this place.”

            “It’s a beautiful land,” I searched for words, “… a kingdom of peace and happiness; that’s all I know.  It’s beyond mortal words!”

            “Humph,” he pursed his lips, “when the Hebrew told us about your religion, he said the same thing.  I thought you, Jesus’ brother, might know.  I can’t imagine a heaven without wine, women, and fine horses.”

            I studied him a moment.  Ibrim wasn’t teasing; he was serious.  He had once heard me talk about my faith when we rode together, but my words had evidently not sunk in.   I was amazed and alarmed at his ignorance.  Also worrying me was the whereabouts of the Hebrew he spoke of.

“Your words about heaven are troubling,” I finally replied. “Did you even know the Hebrew’s name?”

            “I think it was Hammid or Himmid—something like that,” he answered, scratching his beard.

The death of the Jew, whom he referred to as a Hebrew, was unimportant to him.  He had more important matters on his mind.  As I considered his expression, I detected what I hadn’t noticed before.  As he sat on his camel back in Galilee I failed to see the signs.  I also missed them when Peter, Mark, Bartholomew, and I sat with him in his tent.  My mind had been in turmoil.  There had been too many distractions.  Now as Ibrim sat in his coach, with sunlight streaming through the window, I could see rings under his eyes, an ashen, unhealthy pallor in his face, and a faint palsy in his hands.  The malady affecting him, whatever it was, had made him question his mortality, absorbing his attention.  I believed he wanted me to preach to his family and relatives, but that was secondary to what he wanted me to personally do for him.  Like the other apostles and disciples, I had been given the gift of healing.  I could use it on Ibrim, as I had done on Nicodemus and many others, but Jesus once warned us not to abuse this gift.  Eternal life should be the goal, he told us, not earthly immortality and to simply oblige the supplicant.  No one lived in this world forever.  It was the next life, the Kingdom of Heaven, that mattered.  By his own words, Ibrim was not only profoundly ignorant of the new religion; he clearly didn’t understand his sins.  My main purpose for being with him today was to make him well, not save his soul.

            Who was this man?  I wondered bleakly.  I thought I knew Ibrim, but the person next to me in the coach was a stranger to me.  I had known many Gentiles, but very few barbarians.  The bandits who once captured me and turned me into a slave had been barbarians, but the Romans I rode with, though Gentiles, had been civilized and were basically decent men.  Ibrim, who had been their scout, had also appeared, in spite of his rough mannerisms, enlightened and civilized.  Though he said little about his homeland and people in Arabia, Ibrim had been clear about his family in Galilee, who were farmers and herdsmen and lived in a village, not a tent community, which indicated that he came from peaceful roots, not unlike other Galilean and Judean folk.  What turned him and made him revert to his barbarian roots?  Was it simply temptation, the same enticement as Barabbas and all bandit leaders?  What I saw through the window before we emerged from his coach was the work not merely of barbarians but savages.  The number of slaves and the mounds of merchandise indicated to me that there had been in Ibrim’s career a recent attack on a caravan.  Unless Ibrim purchased them in Galilee or Judea, the beasts I saw in our procession must also have been obtained this way.  I could just imagine the many men, even women, left dead in the desert after such raids.

            After climbing out of the coach and following him into his tent, I could scarcely speak.  What I really wanted to do now was pray, wave my hands, and change those dreadful scenes I saw in the camp.  There were even young children at the slave auction.  The poor people being bartered to merchants were treated no better than the animals being sold.  Inside Ibrim’s sumptuous tent, which was filled with stolen furniture and all sorts of expensive-looking knickknacks and shiny objects, I was led to what was obviously a throne room.  Sitting despairingly on the finely carved chair, he looked down at me, exhaled deeply, and then, clapping his hands, called for food and wine.

            “Soon we’ll eat.” He smiled weakly. “My wives, children, and relatives will be brought here soon.”

            “You should be lying down.” I suggested, feeling ill myself. 

Despite Peter’s blessing on this enterprise, I sorely regretted letting Ibrim talk me into it.  It occurred to me, judging by the telltale signs, that he might drop dead any moment.  He was deathly pale, breathing heavily, and he could scarcely hold up his head. 

            “I haven’t much time, Jude,” his voice came out thinly. “…Hurry, no more talk.  Give me your magic before it’s too late.”

            “You!” I shouted at a guard standing by the entrance of the tent. “Give me a hand.  Your leader must take to his bed.”

            At first, the guard frowned at me, but then, as he looked over at his chief, reacted quickly as he witnessed Ibrim teetering in his chair.  A second guard, and then a third, appeared as we ushered him to his bed in the far corner of the tent.  As he collapsed on the great silken covered bed (likely contraband from a raid), he groaned feverishly and closed his eyes.

            Just that moment, as his wives, children, and relatives were being escorted into the tent, servants were bringing food in and placing it on a table, which was the same piece of furniture used in Capernaum.  Though I hadn’t eaten since our lunch in the desert, I was revolted and just wanted to escape.  With absolutely nowhere else to go, this was, of course, an irrational desire.  Once again in my life I was among savage people, but this time, ironically, I was in no danger, unless I displeased my host.  At this stage my host appeared to be unconscious.  Though he had been acting irrational just now, Ibrim had been expecting me to wave my hands and cure him.  Looking searchingly at me, as the bandit leader lie stricken in his bed, I could almost read the guards’ minds.  When one of them spoke in his barbarous tongue, it seemed as if he was saying, “Well, don’t just stand there, make him well!”  The logic seemed plan to me.  In order to minister to his family, relatives, and, I hoped, the other tribal members and slaves, I must do just that.”

            Closing my eyes and clasping my hands reverently, I prayed aloud: “Forgive me Lord.  I know this man doesn’t deserve your mercy.  He’s done terrible things, and yet he’s unrepentant.  He doesn’t even believe.  But to spread your word here and save my own neck, I must get this out of the way.  I have to use my gift so he won’t die.  So Lord, if it be your will, make Ibrim whole again.  More importantly, open his heart and make him understand the path to salvation.  Then, if possible, hasten my departure from this dreadful place, so I can return to Galilee and my friends.”

             As I waited for the miracle to occur, I regretted the last request.  I shouldn’t have asked for escape.  This was my mission—the first such venture to be accomplished on my own.  By now everyone in the tent—family, friends, guards, servants, and slaves—were hovering over the sick bed, waiting for Ibrim to come to.  If I failed, I was a dead man.  The very thought, as Ibrim lie so still, threw me into a panic.  Again one of the guards jabbered at me, as if to say, “What’s wrong, sorcerer?  Why doesn’t he open his eyes?”

            “Lord,” I cried out, “please don’t fail me.  They’ll cut off my head!”

            And then it happened—an event that changed everything.  Ibrim’s eyelids fluttered, he looked up with wide, fearful eyes, and screamed, “Don’t let the Jinn take me!  I have done much evil.  Please Hubal and Abgal, forgive me for killing men and stealing their wives.  The Hebrew god has done much worse!”

            Looking down at Ibrim with mixed emotions, I muttered a prayer of thanksgiving. “He still doesn’t understand,” I said aloud. “This is going to take a lot of work!”

            Muttering in their barbarous tongue, the women hugged me happily.  I couldn’t see his wives’ faces, which were hidden by veils, but the children smiled with great joy.  A look of great awe on the faces of the guards, servants, and slaves was the greatest measure of the Lord’s and my success.  Let them think I’m a sorcerer, I thought, flooded with relief.  I would use this notion to break through their thick, barbarian minds.

 

******

            Ibrim would remain in a delirious state for several days.  It wasn’t the most convincing healing I had accomplished, and yet I was treated with the greatest hospitality after that hour.  The ignorant nomads looking down at their leader might have thought he was dead at first.  It didn’t matter to them that he had, in his delirium, called out to his pagan gods.  His miraculous recovery had followed my prayer and wouldn’t have happened at all if Ibrim hadn’t brought me here. 

            My appetite returned to me that very day.  Avoiding the pork, fried scorpions, and other forbidden delicacies, I found the fowl, pickled fish, and breads palatable, and drank heavily of the Falernian wine.  I remember sitting around the table discussing my faith to them, knowing full well, they didn’t comprehend, as Ibrim lie there, listening to my sermon from his bed.  Very soon, I hoped, he would be up and about, acting as an interpreter to my audience.  I was encouraged that not only his family and relatives had witnessed the healing.  Because there were guards, servants, and domestic slaves present, I would insist that they also hear my message, and if I could speak out in the open, my voice could reach those poor men, women, and children on the auction block too.  That night, as I tumbled into a feathered bed issued to me, I had great hopes for this mission—a complete turnabout in my previous attitude when all I wanted to do was escape.

            When I awakened the next morning, I was in a helpless state after drinking so much wine.  It took a while to recover from my foolishness.  At first I didn’t remember where I was.  Was this a dream?  I wondered, gazing around the room.  “Where was I?  Who were those strange women on each side of me?” Indeed, I found myself in a groggy, blurry-eyed state, surrounded by four, lovely creatures, undoubtedly slaves.  They were half-naked; their faces were unveiled, painted like Syrian whores.  Cooing and fondling me as if I was their playmate were a blond Amazon, two black women, and a small woman with slanted eyes.  Ibrim or one of his guards must have sent them to me as a reward for my services.  Also as a reward for me was the silken gown I awakened in, a multicolored outfit I had seen on eastern magistrates.  A gold-threaded turban, which probably belonged to the same unfortunate man, had been pulled down to my ears, and silvery, pearl studded slippers had been placed on my feet.  Laughing hysterically, I recoiled from the half-naked women, and staggered from the bed.

            “Whoa!” I cried. “This is some dream!” “Get thee behind me, Satan!” I quoted Jesus’ words.

            Apparently, conditioned by my service to the Lord, I was, even in a supposed dream state, incorruptible.  Soon, however, I realized I was awake.  This wasn’t an erotic dream. Looking around the interior of the tent, I saw men and women lying everywhere—drunks who had passed out like myself.  Intertwined with slaves and whatever free women existed in this male dominated tribe, were the guards, relatives, and Ibrim’s friends.  Ibrim, who I assumed was still bed-ridden, was nowhere in sight.  Using seafaring terms, there was no one at the helm.  There was simply no logical order to this society.  With the exception of the men, women, and children who had been on the auction block, the entire camp was probably in a drunken state.  Mumbling my apologies to the four women, who were also quite drunk, I stumbled forward in my ridiculous outfit.  The first thing I had the presence of mind doing was search for Ibrim, who most likely had been celebrating too.  Through a goatskin corridor attached to the main quarters, into a smaller tent, I stepped over bodies and strewn merchandise.   After succumbing to drink, there must have been a dozen or more women, likely members of Ibrim’s harem, lying next to or on top of men.  All of them were half or fully naked where they collapsed.  In addition to drunken people, wineskins, scraps of food, and discarded clothes, pools of vomit glistened on the floor.  To my dismay, as I sidestepped these horrors, wedged between two blond-haired beauties similar to the Amazon in my bed, Ibrim appeared to be unconscious again, maybe even dead, until I bent over to smell his breath.

            “Dear Jesus,” I gripped my forehead. “This man was gravely ill.  You people plied him with wine?”

            A guard lying on the floor nearby, grunted, “Eazim sahir!”, which, I would one day learn, meant ‘Great wizard!’

            “Fool!” I cursed Ibrim. “Stupid fool!”  

Added to my nausea because of overindulgence, was the odor of wine mingling with vomit and stale food.  I had to get out of the tent quickly.  I needed fresh air and an immediate change of scenery.  Mostly I needed to purge.  When I emerged into the morning sunlight, I was almost blinded.  Bending over quickly, I let go a stream of vomit onto the ground.  Then holding up my gown to prevent myself from tripping, I stepped gingerly in my slippers, feeling conspicuous and idiotic.  Fortunately for me, it was still morning.  The full heat of the day hadn’t fallen upon the desert or I would be baking in my clothes.  I should never have gotten myself so intoxicated, I muttered miserably.  What sort of example had I set?  Here I was in a foreign land, among an uncouth, barbarous people, who thought I was a wizard or sorcerer.  Except for Ibrim, whose cure seemed proof to them of my power, no one spoke my language.  I was aware that these people, who were similar to the Nabataeans in the northern desert, were descendents of Ishmael, and, as such, were cousins of the Hebrews, but this tribe was nothing like my family’s neighbors in Nazareth or, for that matter, the Ibrim I once knew.  Ibrim was supposed to be my interpreter.  How could I even communicate with this bunch in order preach the word if he was out cold?

Between the other tents and piles of loot here and there, I stumbled forward, praying feverishly for greater wisdom and deliverance from my plight.  When I arrived at the outskirts of the tent community, there was a great empty space were the slave auction had been.  I could see in the distance, through a chimera of heat rising off of the sand, a merchant caravan with numerous slave wagons tethered to oxen, its own force of guards, and servants ambling along on camels heading north back into parts unknown.  A great sadness filled me for the poor wretches in those cages.  Men, women, and children had been stolen from their lives and turned into slaves, because of these savages.  Soon, as I stood there on the edge of the oasis, the great caravan disappeared over a distant hill.

Staring into the empty spaces, I shouted hoarsely, “Lord, how can you let this happen?  I thought things would be different now that you’re here, but we have the same injustice and misery as before.  What did those people do to deserve such an end?  Those merchants will turn them into concubines, gladiators, catamites, and chattels—all because they were captured by these animals.  I have had experience with these kinds of men.  This happened to me.  You know this!  I was deserted by God, too, when you abandoned me, but isn’t this a new age?  Aren’t you also the Christ—the Lord of mercy?  Those slaves have no futures.  They might as well be dead.  Why have you brought me here to this dreadful place?  They’re savages?  They think I’m a sorcerer?  What purpose do I serve?  Am I to preach salvation to these lost souls?”

“No!  No!” I answered myself, delirious with frustration and anger. “This time you’ve made a mistake!”

Then, as I looked back at the horizon, distant specks appeared where the caravan had been—three riders astride camels moving toward me, their dark silhouettes rippling as a mirage in the rising heat.  Stepping out from the rim of the oasis, shielding my eyes from the sun, I found my feet sinking into sand as I walked into the desert.  I wondered who these visitors might be.  Were they unwary travelers seeking shelter in the oasis or were they merely a trio of nomads returning with a scouting report for a future raid.  This seemed reasonable to me.  I remembered my onetime captors attacking merchant bands after we had made camp.  On the other hand, I hoped it wasn’t innocent wayfarers stumbling into this nest of cutthroats and thieves.  As they approached, my last assumption grew.  Even from afar, I could see that these were no ordinary travelers.  All three of them wore the gowns, robes, and turbans of rich potentates.  Though it was a frivolous thought, I recalled my parents telling my brothers and sisters and I about the three magi visiting the manger where Jesus was born.  Such men would be ripe picking for members of Ibrim’s band if they were up and about. 

As they trotted closer and closer, I waved my arms excitedly. “You mustn’t be here!” I warned them. “You’ve stumbled into a den of murderers and thieves.  It’s too late for me, but not for you.  There’s another oasis not far from here.  I saw it on the way south.  Go!  Save yourselves!”

I repeated my warning, but they continued moving toward me, until they were a mere five or six cubits away.  These were not ordinary men.  They made no introductions nor, in my frame of mind, did I introduce myself.

The rider on the left spoke first, saying: “Fear not, the Lord is with you.  In the bowels of evil even, He abides!”

“Don’t lose heart,” the middle rider said cordially, “you’re here for a purpose: to bring salvation to the lost children of Arabia—the Ishmaelites.”

“Your road has just begin!” exclaimed the third rider. “Further south to Saba are more children of Ishmael, their kinsmen.  When you return to Ibrim’s people, be patient, for you will speak their tongue.”

“The Lord has given you this gift,” the first rider explained. “Wherever you go, the Holy Spirit will be in your mouth.  The Lord will be in your heart and mind.”

“All will be well, Jude,” promised the middle rider. “The Lord has heard your prayers.  Pray for the lost children.  You’re their apostle!  This is your mission, Jude, brother of Christ.  You can’t go back.  Stay true to your path.  Remain steadfast in the Lord!”

“No!” I cried, dropping to my knees. “You can’t ask this of me!  What about my family, friends, and Mary Magdalene?  You’re saying I can never go back?”

Hearing a voice from behind me call out my name, I whirled around, expecting one of Ibrim’s guards, but there was no one there.  It was, I realized, Jesus’ voice, saying very simply, “Jude! Jude!  Stay on course!”  When I glanced back at where the angels sat on their camels, I saw only vacant sand.  Though I had heard Jesus’ voice afterwards, his angels had, as when he ascended into heaven, given the message.  Now He spoke to me from his Kingdom—a voice out of the clear, cloudless sky. 

Suddenly, I felt remorse for my weakness.  Burying my face in my hands, I wept.  “I’m sorry, Lord.” I sobbed. “…Why am I here among these heathens?  I promised I would return to Galilee.  Will I die in this forsaken land?”

“Go!” He shouted down from heaven. “Stay on course!”

Driven against my doubts was a force greater than my nature.  I dare not go against Jesus’ command, and yet I felt marooned in this hellish place, a castaway from my people and those I loved.

 

******

When I re-entered the main tent, the drunken merry-makers were still lying here and there on the floor, only a few able to sit up and stair stupidly around the tent, but Ibrim had left his den of iniquity and staggered back to his bed, a worried look on his face.  The Holy Spirit filled me that moment.

“….Wherrr werrrr-youu?” He asked in a slurred voice.

“Lie down, Ibrim,” I said, pointing to the bed. “You’re on the mend.”

“I’m fine” he frowned. “Your god cured me.  I’m just drunk!”

“Pay attention.  I want you to comprehend this,” I said solemnly, guiding him back into his bed. “Thus sayeth the Lord.” I shouted down at him. “You will change your life Ibrim, because next time when you fall ill, you’ll die.  There’s no second chance.  You could’ve been a force of good in your life, but you chose darkness.  You have led your people into sin and error.  That’s over.  Your life belongs to the Lord!”

After my encounter with the angels of the Lord and hearing Jesus’ voice, I had been, in spite of my regrets, humbled.  Now, in the tent of this bandit leader, I was emboldened.  I would not tolerate Ibrim’s deplorable attitude and ignorance.  I had been, as Moses once was, in a strange land, surrounded by an alien, treacherous people, but that was then.  This was now.  I had been given orders from the angels of the Lord and heard the final command from Jesus in heaven, and had, afterwards, standing over Ibrim, been strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  Recalling my new gift from the Lord, my spirit was bolstered even more as I contemplated the time when these people would be awake and hear me speak their tongue.  I would be their apostle.  One of the three angels said we would travel south to Saba, not north back to Judea and Galilee.  I would be far away from the people and land I knew and understood.  Nevertheless, guided by the Holy Spirit, I would, in the presence of Ibrim’s band, give the lost children of Arabia the word, converting them from their barbarous ways, staying on the course set for me by the Lord.

 

The End

 

 

Return to Table of Contents/Writer’s Den